Cities adopt increased school impact fees for 2018; district looks ahead to seventh elementary school

Snoqualmie and North Bend will be collecting higher impact fees on housing developments in 2018, due to both city council’s adoption of the Snoqualmie Valley School District’s updated fee. North Bend’s City Council adopted the new fee schedule Oct. 3, Snoqualmie’s council adopted it Oct. 9.

The new rates are $10,096.27 for single family units, an increase of $44 over the 2017 rate, and $2,227.34 for multi-family units, an increase of $936 over the 2017 rate.

Developers pay impact fees as part of their permit cost when they apply to begin construction in the city. The fees are intended to ensure that new developments pay for the cost of facilities for the new students that they bring into the district.

The reason behind the difference in price for development of single and multi-family units is student generation. Single-family units tend to generate a higher ratio of students as opposed to multi-family units, where the ratio of students to all residents is much lower.

Ryan Stokes, assistant superintendent of finance and operations for the school district, said the impact fees are updated annually in order to match funding needed for the projects in the six-year Capital Facilities Plan. The plan outlines relevant upcoming facilities projects and their costs to the district.

The impact fee “is the fee the city will collect for the year,” he said. “When somebody applies to build a residence as a part of their permit to construct, that’s one of the fees the owner will have to pay to begin construction on their property.”

Snoqualmie, North Bend, Fall City, Sammamish, and King County collect the fee from developers and pass it back to the school district. Cities and counties have the authority to impose impact fees within their boundaries, while school districts do not.

“The cities collect it on our behalf and each jurisdiction can determine the timing on that,” he said. “School districts do not have statutory authority to impose school impact fees but instead must rely on the counties and cities in which the district resides to adopt school impact fee ordinances and collect fees on behalf of the district.”

Stokes said the ongoing construction of Mount Si High School and a future seventh elementary school are the two big projects that are detailed in the capital facilities plan. He said the state increasing funding for lower class sizes at the K-3 level has accelerated the district’s need for space at the elementary level. With fewer students per class, more teachers and classrooms will be needed to serve all of the district’s students.

“The state’s funding for the teachers but hasn’t increased for the facilities to meet those goals. So everything is at a pinch at the elementary level,” he said. “That’s one of the factors as to we why think we are going to need another elementary school.”

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